@FCChristie is Fiona Christie. She’s a careers consultant, parent, reader, generally curious about most things, won’t give up on making the world a better place…not yet anyway
I can’t believe you’re not on Twitter
Well I have to admit I’m not actually. Although I do tweet occasionally in 2 group Twitters (Salford PGRs and CareersSalfordU), but I just haven’t got round to doing my own. I know I should but it’s just getting round to it. I suppose I am also not sure how to approach it – would it be for work, would it be for personal use, or both? All that blurring of boundaries between the personal and professional is a bit mind-boggling. I have also resisted so far as I already feel I slip too much into constant checking of my phone for email, facebook, the weather, google maps, my bank balance etc…
Anyway enough of that; the reason for the blog post title is that this was effectively what Justine Potter who runs her own Media company (Savvy Productions) said to the student and graduate hopefuls who attended the Next Generation workshop at the recent Nations and Regions conference at the Lowry. She said that for her Twitter has been pivotal in getting work for her company but also in hiring staff. On the panel with her, Alex Connock from Ten Alps talked about people “curating their social network” and where better to start than with their 500+ friends on Facebook. According to Connock, the Media industry is all about “hustling”. Do fantastic work and try and sell it to anyone you can, using your social network wherever you can. The importance of connections is very much the case in the media and creative industries but in other industries and sectors too.
This is all nothing new; people use contacts to get work. And yes, people use contacts for all sorts of stuff. Connections between people have always been what make things happen whether it’s through social media or more traditional forms of communication.
The BBC2 documentary this week “Who gets the Best jobs” confirmed that contacts and how you make use of who you know is becoming more important and is actually a grim barrier to social mobility. The clever young person who grows up in a poorly connected environment is going to find it harder to get one of the best jobs than the average kid who grows up in a well-connected environment, We have known it for a while; social class is still the biggest barrier in British Society; probably more than ethnic origin, gender etc…
Malcolm Gladwell in his book the Tipping Point talks about “How little things can make a big difference”. He talks about how 3 kinds of people contribute to tipping points – these are connectors, mavens and salesmen. No surprise, the connectors are people who are good at making connections with people; they tend to be people who know everyone! These kinds of people are natural experts at managing their network of contacts; they love collecting people. Gladwell talks about how the most influential connections can be made via face-to-face communication.
So whether it’s who you went to school with or how you curate your Facebook friends – we can’t get away from the power of connections. And small connections can sometimes make big things happen.
So when it comes to using social media; I think it does work best when it reinforces and enhances face to face communication. I have a 14 year old son who is addicted to Facebook right now so I do understand the scepticism of the American academics who have damned some aspects of social media; describing some users of social media as having been afflicted by a “modern madness” and how individuals are “Alone together”; in a scenario where you could have 100s of Twitter followers, 100s of Facebook and Linked In contacts but no-one to call up to help you out in an emergency.
The battle lines seem to be drawn right now around social media between the advocates and the sceptics. I am a curious pragmatist and I have heard and read enough to know that it’s something we just have to learn to use effectively.
This article was first posted on the Salford postgraduate careers blog. The link also includes comments on the article.